Overall, aloe vera is a low maintenance happy plant that doesn’t require much looking after. It is a plump plant with glossy green leaves that are used for a variety of uses including medicinal purposes. Native to dry temperatures it could greatly suffer from overwatering which is one of the main reasons for its leaves to turn brown. It is usually grown indoors, however, it can be grown outdoors as well given that the temperatures are suitable.
All it needs are the right growing conditions and its good to go. These include good drainage, warm temperatures, adequate in direct sunlight, etc. If it isn’t provided with these conditions it can start to turn brown, which will, in turn, lead to rot and even decay.
The problem in most cases is that the process of browning aloe vera leaves starts unnoticeably. The leaves slowly start to turn brown from the outer edge of the leaves towards the stem so it may be almost invisible. However, if you keep a check on it from time to time and make sure it’s getting everything it needs this shouldn’t happen in the first place.
Here are some reasons why your aloe plant turns brown and what you can do to prevent it from happening or fix it if it already has.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Your Aloe Vera Plant Turning Brown?
- How to Prevent and Restore It
Why Is Your Aloe Vera Plant Turning Brown?
While there can be multiple reasons for your aloe plant to turn brown, here are the most common ones:
- Excessive Heat
- Cold Air
- Inadequate light
- Excessive fertilizer
- Nutrient Deficiency
- Plant damage
- Too much salt in the soil
- Physiological disorder
One of the biggest reasons for browning stalks in Aloe plants is the excessive moisture in the soil due to overwatering. A way in which you can tell if you’re overwatering is if the plant is wilting and if the leaves have soft spots in them. The leaves are an excellent indicator to judge the moisture level of the plant. If it’s getting the right amount of water then the leaves will be healthy and a glossy green.
Indigenous to dry climates, aloe plants don’t like too much water. Only water them when 75% of the soil is dry. When watering your aloe you must remove any excess water left behind so that your plant is not left in standing water. You can do this by ensuring that the water comes out of the drainage hole, which is at the bottom of the container. Overwatering can cause your aloe to turn brown as well as root rot, which will lead to the plant dying.
In the case of aloe plants, it’s better to underwater them than overwater. However, that too can cause browning in the plant and thus it is best to water them just as much as is required. An aloe plant with wrinkled leaves that are losing its color could be because they’re dry and not getting adequate water.
This could cause problems later on as this could cause the entire plant to become brown, leading to its decay.
3. Excessive Heat
Sudden temperature changes don’t do too well with aloe plants. Moving a plant from the indoors to the outdoors during the summer could cause it to go into shock and therefore causing the leaves to go brown. This is due to the excessive heat that it suddenly is exposed to.
Despite aloe plants being desert plants, the ideal temperatures for them are between 55-80°F. Temperatures higher than that can destroy the plant, especially if its for long periods. Excessive heat could also cause it to dry out faster or cause a sunburn.
4. Cold Air
Just like with excessive heat, a sudden shock to the cold could also cause the plants to turn brown and the leaves to wilt. This could lead it to transfer to the rest of the plant as well, going all the way down to the roots and causing it to die. The first ones to get destroyed will be the leaves that are closest to the cold air or draft.
Even though aloe plants are indoor plants you still need to be careful as, if the plant is on a windowsill a penetrating cold air can damage it and cause it to turn brown. In the case that your plant is outdoors, the temperature could be okay in the day and then drastically drop in the evening, which would be a shock to your aloe
You should check the temperature by touching the container from the window side, and then moving your hand to the other side of the container. If you can feel a temperature difference, then this is not the right place for it and you should look for another.
5. Inadequate Light
To thrive, aloe needs bright indirect sunlight. Make sure to place the plant in an area that receives ample amount of indirect sunlight because if it’s placed in areas where the light is low, the leaves will start to turn brown and wilt. Look for a corner in your house that receives indirect sunlight.
You also need to be extra careful in making sure that it doesn’t receive direct sunlight as this could cause it to get sunburnt. Even though these plants are resilient and will go back to normal, they will still get damaged in the process and sometimes may not even be able to recover from it.
Due to their preference for warm temperatures, aloe plants are prone to sunburns. This is ironic as they are essentially used to treat sunburns!
As discussed earlier, if your plant is receiving too much direct sunlight it could cause it to get sunburnt. The tips will start to get red or brown, moving on to the rest of the plant. The leaves will also start to get faded and brown spots, also referred to, as sunspots will start to emerge on them.
If you feel your aloe plant is experiencing sunburn, remove it from direct sunlight immediately. If it is outside, shift it into the shade or bring it back inside. Check to see if it hasn’t dried out due to the excessive amount of direct sunlight. If you feel like it has, water it a bit extra to help speed its recovery.
7. Excessive Fertilizer
Aloe plants are low maintenance and hence don’t need much fertilizer. Excessive use of fertilizer can cause an increase of chemical salts in the soil, which will in turn burn the roots. This will be evident through the browning of the leaves, which could also indicate its exposure to chemicals. If placed indoors, it could have come into contact with cleaning chemicals.
It is best to fertilize them once a month, that too with diluted fertilizer. In the case that it has been exposed to an excessive amount of fertilizer, clean the soil using an ample amount of water, or then repot the plant.
8. Nutrient Deficiency
Opposite of the excessive fertilizer, a lack of nutrients altogether could also cause the leaves to turn brown. Just like any other plant, aloe too needs sufficient nutrients to grow. If the soil in which your aloe is growing is acidic or alkaline it could take away the nutrients from the plant.
Another factor for nutrient deficiency is dryness and excessive water. It is therefore crucial that you provide your aloe with the best growing conditions so that it gets the required nutrients and thrives.
Even though these plants are resilient, they are prone to pests, which can cause brown spots to emerge on the leaves and destroy the plant. Some of these pests include mites, mealybugs, scales, flies, and fungus gnats.
Most aloe plants can resist mild attacks from pests, however, this is provided that they are healthy. In some cases, you may not even be able to see the damage being done with is dangerous for your plant.
The aloe vera plant is susceptible to leaf diseases such as the following. These could cause the leaves to get brown spots.
- Aloe vera leaf spot disease
- Cladosporium leaf spot
- Leaf spot and leaf blight disease
- Aloe vera anthracnose disease
Generally, these fungal diseases take place due to overwatering and can adverse effects on the plant, sometimes even causing you to replace it. They can lead to root rot and damage the plants completely.
11. Plant Damage
External factors can come into play and damage your plant. This is especially if your plant is located outdoors. Animals or even children can be playing with the plant, squishing the leaves, biting, bending it, etc. which can cause it to get brown spots.
Even though the plant can withstand a certain amount of damage, if it is rough or extreme then it could destroy the plant. Sometimes the damage is so severe that the only option is to remove the leaves.
12. Too Much Salt in the Soil
As discussed earlier, this could be due to an excessive amount of fertilizers in the soil, causing a hefty amount of salt to accumulate in the soil. This could also ruin the structure of the leaves and cause them to go brown. The salt also takes away the nutrients of the soil, leaving the plant deprived of them and hindering its growth.
After transplanting, aloe can go brown due to the shock. Ideally, aloe plants should be transplanted during the spring. For those plants that are under the age of three, should be replanted year after year. The way to deal with transplanting and preventing your plant from turning brown is to provide it with a small amount of water weekly.
Also, remember to keep it in a place that has partial shade. After a few days, it should go back to normal.
14. Physiological Disorder
The browning of an aloe plant is one of the symptoms of a physiological disorder. This disorder happens due to the growing conditions not being suitable for the plant such as improper lighting, extreme temperatures, lack of nutrients, overwatering or underwatering, etc.
How to Prevent and Restore It
1. Repot Your Plant
In case your plant has been overwatered you should repot it immediately. Be careful not to damage the roots while doing so, gently slide the plant out from the pot. Replace the soggy soil with fresh soil and slowly replant the aloe. When repotting, you could use a potting soil mixed with lots of gritting material like sand or pumice to ensure good drainage.
Also, pay attention to the kind of pot that you are using to grow your aloe. The majority of succulents prefer terracotta pots as opposed to plastic ones as they don’t retain the moisture as much as plastic pots do. Regardless of the kind of pot you are using, make sure that it has drainage holes at the bottom.
You must know by now not to overwater it. Once a week is good enough and even less than that during the winter season. Between each watering, make sure to see that it has completely died out, the water shouldn’t remain stagnant on the roots of the plant.
Water only at the base of the plant, into the soil as opposed to from on top so that the plant does not get wet. Pro tip: water early in the morning so the water can evaporate during the day.
When moving your plant from indoors to outdoors do it slowly to prevent it from going into shock and getting damaged. Do it carefully, getting it used to the new temperatures. Start by moving it to a shady spot and then slowly to brighter and warmer areas but for not more than a few hours at a stretch.
If you feel like it is too big a transition and temperature differences between the outdoors and indoors are too high then bring it back inside.
4. Fight Pests
If a pest has affected your plant you can simply prune away the infected leaves using a pair of shears. It is important that once you do that, you also look into the kind of pest that has infected your plant and then treat it in accordance with that.
Flies and mealybugs can be washed away using a steady supply of water. Remember to drain the plant of the water so that the excessive moisture doesn’t cause any further damage.
Mites however can cause more serious damage to your aloe, causing you to get rid of it altogether. If you figure it out immediately you still have a chance of saving it so be vigilant and keep an eye on it.
The most important tip is to keep the infected plant away from other plants, especially other aloe plants so that the other plants don’t get infected.
Other bugs and insects can be wiped away with a cotton swab dipped into alcohol.
5. Flush the Soil
If your aloe plant has been damaged due to an excessive amount of fertilizers then you must flush the soil. This may even help you save your aloe! Do a thorough job while flushing; allowing it to drain for a few minutes, this will remove the unwanted fertilizer in the soil, preventing your plant from getting brown and rotting. Make sure not to water it until the soil is completely dry.
6. Keep Your Aloe Warm
Aloe plants grow best in warmer temperatures and therefore they are best grown in the spring. If it is too cold outdoors then bring your plant in, and the same goes for if the temperatures suddenly change. Keep it away from drafts of cold air as that could cause it to go into shock and make the leaves turn brown. This includes keeping it away from air conditioners, fans and windows, and doors. It will protect your plant and make it thrive.
There are many reasons for the aloe plant to turn brown such as overwatering, too much direct sunlight, excessive fertilizers which can cause the soil to become salty and deprive the plant of its required nutrients, pests and diseases, extreme temperature differences, etc.
The next time your plant starts to go brown take a look to see that you have met each of these conditions. You should prevent it from happening in the first place as even though the plant is resilient it could weaken it and in some cases even destroy it completely.
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However, in the case that it does happen, address the issue and deal with it in the appropriate way being careful not to damage the roots in the process. Keep your plants comfortable and they will be happy and green!
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.